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The continuing evolution of enterprise virtualization is not about making hypervisors better -- the focus has been on VM management and improving the varied means of delivering applications. Three popular features are emerging: VMware vApp, VMware ThinApp and hosted applications. Each of these features is unique, and the choice will depend on the mode of application delivery that is best for your own organization.
For example, vApp -- short for virtual appliance -- allows VSphere users to organize related VMs into a single logical entity -- a virtual appliance -- intended to deliver a service. The vApp does not really change where the constituent VMs are deployed or delivered, but it can greatly simplify service management and allows vApps to be imported or exported for use by other hypervisor platforms.
VMware's hosted applications in Horizon 6 are most similar to application virtualization where an enterprise application is virtualized using Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH). Once the application is virtualized, it can be delivered from an RDSH server to any endpoint device regardless of the operating system or platform. For example, an organization's legacy application can be packaged and delivered to iPads or Android smartphones through RDSH.
ThinApp is another approach to application delivery, allowing an application to be packaged and deployed to endpoints. However, each endpoint must be natively capable of running the application. For example, a Linux application would require a Linux endpoint, and a Windows application would need a Windows endpoint; it would be impossible to run a Windows application on an Android smartphone. A ThinApp package isolates the application from the underlying operating system, so organizations can reduce -- or eliminate -- conflicts or system interoperability problems.
A vApp represents another step in the evolution of VM organization and management, but making the move from managing individual VMs to managing VMs as an organized group (or virtual appliance) requires careful consideration. Organizations should perform extensive proof-of-principle testing to ensure that vApps are supported by existing management tools and policies -- especially VM protection and restoration protocols. In addition, IT policies should improve testing for vApps as component VMs are changed or updated since unforeseen consequences may be harder to identify when VMs are grouped into virtual appliances.
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